Study: 18 percent consider phones their primary camera

Consumers are complementing their digital photography needs with multi-use devices, such as smartphones and tablets, according to a new study released today from the Consumer Electronics Association.

The CEA found 55 percent of consumers still consider a point-and-shoot camera as their primary photography device — but the number who consider their smartphone to be their primary device for their photography needs has tripled in two years to 18 percent.

The rise of multi-use devices expands photography options and creates new opportunities within the imaging industry, CEA says. “The image quality of SLRs and point-and-shoot cameras is still very important to consumers. In fact, 93 percent of consumers ranked digital point-and-shoots highest in image quality.”

However, 74 percent of consumers favor smartphones when it comes to portability, CEA adds. “With 61 percent of photos taken at the spur of the moment, the convenience of smartphones allows the average consumers to take 35 photos per month on their phones, versus 32 photos per month on their point-and-shoot cameras.”

Backing up points made here about the importance of sharing to photography, the study also found 74 percent of consumers ranked smartphones highest on ease of sharing. Consumers with smartphones and tablets were more likely to use sharing-related applications, such as sending images from one phone to another (38 percent), emailing photos (58 percent), posting photos to a social networking site (48 percent), and texting photos (45 percent).

The survey was conducted in December 2011. CEA’s report, The Changing Landscape of Digital Photography, is available now.